Title: A Good Name For a Hero
Author: D.E. Elledge
Cover Artist: Christine Griffin
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy Links: Amazon, Publisher
Genre: m/m contemporary romance
Length: Novel (200 pages)
Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5
A Guest Review by J.K. Hogan
Review Summary: An interesting mystery with a romance that fell short of the mark.
Ty Blackburn sails the Gulf Coast of Southern Florida, taking tourists on chartered tours and photographing the local wildlife and scenic landscapes. Hiring Cody Masterson as second mate and photography assistant seems like a good idea, but when Ty finds himself falling for the attractive and self-proclaimed straight young man, it creates problems. Ty has a rule against dating his employees, and Cody’s behavior raises doubts about his sexual orientation.
Frustration mounts, increased by threatening letters and secrets neither man wishes to share. When the danger turns real, Ty and Cody reveal their pasts, and their relationship turns physical. But pressures on both of them threaten their relationship. To save Ty’s life, Cody must resolve his conflicting desires and decide what is really important to him.
Honestly, I have to review this book in two parts: the mystery and the romance. The romance part I’d have to give 2 stars and the mystery I’d give a 3.
This book would have actually gotten a higher rating from me if it hadn’t been an attempt at romance. The whole thing was kind of uncomfortable to read. Ty was the openly gay owner of a charter boat business. Cody was his extremely closeted, twenty-two-year-old employee. Ty finds himself exceptionally attracted to Cody, but he seems to be aware that Cody hasn’t even admitted to himself that he’s gay. Ty’s inner dialog keeps stating that he doesn’t mess around with employees, and he wouldn’t make a pass at Cody because he was in the closet. Yet that’s exactly what he does, several times. It shouldn’t have mattered that Ty thought Cody was gay and just didn’t want to admit it; no means no. It was borderline creepy that Ty kept making moves on his young employee.
Then there was Cody. Supposedly Cody is trying to deny that he’s gay (although later on, he admits that he’d known from an early age). Even after he succumbs to one of Ty’s many advances, his attitude about homosexuality is frankly unpleasant to read about, especially in a romance. He grew up Baptist and has all manner of notions that being gay is wrong, and he has an obligation to his family to get married and have kids the ‘normal’ way.
It seemed like the two main characters went from this uncomfortable back and forth dynamic to insta-love. There wasn’t much in between the two extremes. It didn’t help that there weren’t any physical love scenes in the book. While I wouldn’t say a book has to have sex scenes to keep my interest, this one suffered from the lack of them. Since the chemistry wasn’t established between the two characters in an emotional way, the fade-to-black when it came to their physical relationship only highlighted the missing connection. There are ways to portray sex scenes without being graphic or obvious. I also got tired of hearing the phrase “made love.” Since the sex scenes weren’t shown, there was some talking about it after the fact. In such a case, I think the author should have come up with a few more euphemisms to make it less redundant.
I liked Ty as a character, and this book featured three of my favorite things as his hobbies and livelihood: boating, diving, and photography. I loved that part of it. The mystery of the plot had a much more natural story arc, and was much more believable. Ty had been getting threatening and homophobic letters before he met Cody. He’d also been pressured by locals to so sell his business and leave town. Because of this, when someone starts trying to kill him, there were a lot of different suspects, especially after we learn that Ty is a senator’s son. Although, it the ultimate reason the bad guy had for doing what he did was flimsy and overdramatic, it was a nice little whodunit.
Overall, this book did keep my attention because of the mystery plot, but I found myself skimming the “romance” parts. It just didn’t really work as a romance. Really, except for the part where Cody saves the day at the end, I could have done without Cody at all. Once he got over his anti-gay issues, I liked him well enough, but he was still more of a stumbling block than an asset to the story. I would read another mystery by this author but probably not another romance.